DISCLAIMER: Donít own Star Trek: Voyager. Donít own the characters. Donít own Macbeth, for that matter. Just borrowing. No money involved.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Story That Dare Not Speak Its Name
Act IVScene iSecret, Black, and Midnight Hags
Outside the doors to Holodeck 2 on Deck 6, the weird sisters had set up shop. They were sitting cross-legged around a holographic Bunsen burner, heating up a large Petri dish that bubbled thickly, emitting a smell that caused crewmembers who might have been heading to the Holodeck for a bit of entertainment to find other ways to spend their off-duty time. The lights in the hallway had been dimmed, and the shadows cast upon the walls by the open flame added to the decidedly unStarfleetlike atmosphere.
"Thrice the tika cat has mewled," intoned Sam Wildman.
"Thrice, and once the hedgehog blubbered!" added Megan Delaney, rubbing Neelix's severed ear for luck.
"Boatswain pipes 'it's time, it's time'!" said Jennifer Delaney.
"Then circle round the burner, so; in the rancid items throw. Toenails of the Klingon Kahless, full of fungus, like a cheese press. That's the first into the dish, close your eyes and make a wish!" Sam chanted.
The weird sisters at this moment closed their eyes, clasped their hands, and jigged around the cheerily burning flame, bobbing up and down with each step.
"Dribbles, dribbles, boils and Tribbles, we the wise and knowing sybils," cackled the three in unison.
Suddenly they ceased their circling and stared again at the bubbling goo in the Petri dish.
Megan held out her hand and tossed some gruesome items into the mix. "Implant of a broken drone, wires crossed and circuits blown. Spot of Trill, a forehead ridge, Vidiian scab and blackened midge. Whisker of a dead Talaxian, hip-swish of a gay Cardassian. Make a charm of awful portent, sorrow's springs and dire torment."
"Dribbles, dribbles, boils and Tribbles, we the wise and knowing sybils," they chanted again, and again they bobbed and weaved around the burner.
Jennifer Delaney then hobbled up to the apparatus of their unhallowed arts and flung her own contributions into the foul and fetid brew. "Earlobe of the vile Ferengi, hacked as he cursed and blasphemed me. Lock of Kazon, curly, stylish; heart of human, full of anguish; bile of Hirogen foiled; all into the dish and boiled! Kneecap of that strange to-do, Species 8472; Bajoran earring; Trabe-lips, sneering; all to make the worst appearing."
For the third time, the witches clasped hands and circled counter-clockwise around the bubbling brew. "Dribbles, dribbles, boils and Tribbles; we the wise and knowing sybils."
Finally, Sam Wildman added the last ingredient, bringing their grim work to its culminating fulsomeness. "Now, set it up with Janeway's blood, then the charm is thick as mud."
At that moment, as the foul, black smoke rose from the dish, the Borg Queen shimmered into existence.
"Ah, that's better! I commend you. Now, you do the blackened arts, blackened so as are your hearts, this great justice! By my Borgness, I would have you, and your foul mix, part of my great Unimatrix! Now, about the burner chant, let us blather, rave and rant! And the business you've begun shall this day its courses run."
With that, the Borg Queen disappeared, leaving the weird sisters primed and ready to deal with Captain Torres, who had just then turned the corner of the hallway.
Jennifer cackled, "By the smarting of our bums, someone nasty this way comes!" The three weird sisters howled their laughter at the sexual innuendo. "Open, legs, whoever begs!" she smirked.
"What ho, you filthy, rank, and poxy hoes!" ventured Torres. "There is something I would know!"
"Anything for you, Captain!" smiled Megan toothlessly as she ran her gnarled, knuckly hands over Torres's breasts.
"You have only to ask, oh great leader!" cackled Jennifer as she plastered herself to the Captain's backside.
"We await your bidding, B'Ellllaaaaaaaaaannnnna!" smarmed Sam, her fetid breath wafting into Torres's face.
Captain Torres pulled Sam Wildman's arms from around her neck, as she breathed through her mouth, and tried to put some distance between herself and the three witches, who seemed oblivious to their hideousness.
"Everything you've said about me has come true," she told them. "Now I want to know more. Tell me! By whatever means you use, by whatever unholy method at your disposal, though it loose the very hounds of Gre'thor and crack the firmament through which we travel, I would know my fate! Answer me! Or by Kahless I swear you'll be flying without a ship, you desperate hags!" In her fury, she had grabbed Megan by the throat and was throttling her, but this merely had the effect of making the weird sisters act even more lasciviously toward their Captain.
"Oh, Captain, you're sooooo stroooonnnnngggg!" giggled Jennifer.
"Can I be next, Captain, please?" begged Sam.
Flummoxed by their behavior, Torres released Megan and stared at them in confusion.
"Would you hear it from us, or our betters?" asked Megan, the red marks on her neck livid.
"Whoever you choose," answered Torres threateningly. "But tell me now!"
Then the three witches called upon the bubbling goo in the Petri dish. "Come out, come out, whoever you be! But show your face for Torres to see!"
The flame sputtered a brief moment. Then a ghostly form took shape in the smoke that rose from the dish. It was a Terran native chieftain, dressed in full feathered regalia, and it pointed its spear directly at the Captain. "Torres, Torres, Torres! Beware Chakotay! Him heap big stuff! Do not dismiss him! Now, enough!" The specter disappeared back into smoke.
"'Beware Chakotay'! Thanks for nothing!" cried the Captain. "That's it? That's all you three can conjure up?" She turned on the witches, preparing to shove them out an airlock.
"Stay your wrath!" cried Jennifer. "Here's another. Hear her!"
And it was true. Another shape was forming in the smoke above the sputtering Bunsen burner, but this shape was well-known to her, and well-beloved by her. It was the image of Seven of Nine. She felt her heart catch as she stared at the shadowy image of her woman. She held her breath as the specter began to speak.
"B'Elanna Torres, my one true love!" the smiling image of Seven said. "Fear no man aboard, nay, nor woman, either, for only one known to me as you are, my beloved, can bring harm to you!" The spectral image of Seven of Nine blew a kiss to Torres before disappearing into the smoke.
Torres broke out into a relieved smile at this news. "'Only one known' to her as I am! That's I alone! Seven came to me with her maidenhead intact, and no man, nor woman, either, has been in my place with her!" she mused aloud.
"Ooooohhh, you're such a naughty Captain!" giggled Jennifer. "Will you take my maidenhead, too?"
"Mine, too!" said Megan.
"And mine, too!" smirked Sam.
"I cannot take what is no longer there to be taken, silly slags!" chided Torres. "Is there news else?"
"Watch and see!" cried Megan, raising her hand toward the smoking apparatus, as if invoking the next specter.
The smoke rose high above the deck and gradually coalesced into the very image and likeness of her former captain. Torres rubbed her eyes and looked again, hoping she had not seen what she thought she had. But there was no mistaking the specter. It was the very form of Kathryn Janeway when Torres had last seen her, her body bleeding from the vicious wounds Torres had delivered, her blood pouring from her mouth, her face a deathmask of terror and pain.
"Janeway!" she breathed. "How is it that the dead do move among us and hold discourse through bloodied lips and with torn hearts?" she asked the three witches.
"Listen to her, Captain," said Jennifer. "She speaks the truth."
The specter turned sightless eyes to Torres and spoke as if unable to move her mouth properly. "Take heart, B'Elanna, and be sure of purpose. Fear no one's censure or damnation. You shall stand unbloodied and unbeaten till Kathryn Janeway returns to Voyager." Then her image wavered and dissolved like the smoke it was.
"Till Kathryn Janeway returns to Voyager? But she's dead, so she can't return! I guess I'm in the clear!" Torres took a deep breath and rubbed her eyes in relief. "Thank Kahless! Perhaps all this bloodshed can now come to an end."
"Beware Chakotay, Captain! Don't forget!" chimed the weird sisters.
"Damn!" cursed Torres. "Chakotay! I must not dismiss him. Isn't that what the specter said? Where is he then?" she whirled on the witches and demanded. "How is it we can't find him anywhere on this ship? It's like he's of the very air, or like these specters here todayunbodied yet sensible. I must find a way to draw him out, the silent-footed bastard!" She began pacing back and forth in the hallway in front of the Holodeck. Suddenly she stopped and smiled at her companions. "I have it!" she cried. "If I can't kill him, I'll kill the things he loves the best and by this bring him out, the pest!"
With that, the Captain strode to the turbolift and, upon entering it, turned and faced the doors, barking out her destination. "Hydroponics!"
Scene iiChicken in the Morning, Chicken in the Evening . . .
Neelix loved working in the Hydroponics Bay on Deck 13. He enjoyed the fact that the vegetables that he grew he'd eventually use in his recipes to nourish the crew of his beloved Voyager. He felt connected to the cycle of life this way. Life aboard a starship was an unnatural existence. It was difficult for him to feel close to the diurnal rhythms of nature in artificial lighting, eating "food" replicated from the bulk matter fed into them. Fresh vegetables and fruit tasted so much better than replicated items, no matter how realistic or close to the originals. The rich, loamy smell of the nutrient-rich soil substitute in which the vegetables grew reminded him of his garden back on Rinax before his life took the drastic turn that had led him to the Starship Voyager. Oh, he didn't regret finding himself among the friendly, accepting crew of the Alpha Quadrant vessel, and it went against the grain of the inveterately cheerful Talaxian to spend time pouring over the past with sorrow and regret. But sometimes he missed his home, his family. The way they'd been taken from him during the Haakonian conflict would have given even the most optimistic soul cause for sadness.
Neelix sighed as he checked the nitrogen levels of the ersatz soil. No, no point in dwelling on things beyond his ability to change or even to understand. He had a good life aboard Voyager. He liked being chief cook and bottle-washer cum morale officer for the motley crew. Taking care of Hydroponics allowed him some alone time, as well. He enjoyed his solitary task among the vegetables for another very good reason. It was here that he felt closest to Kes, who'd first established the hydroponics bay shortly after they had joined the crew of the trim scout ship. Kes. Another source of sorrow for the little Talaxian, another challenge to his philosophy of cheerful acceptance. It had hurt him when she had broken off their relationship; he couldn't deny that. But wasn't it better to let her go than to cling to something that wasn't there anymore? And wasn't it better to have taken the friendship she'd offered than to deny himself any contact with the Ocampan woman? A friend was still a friend, even if he'd felt more than she did. In the years since she'd left the ship, he'd been comforted by his memories of that friendship.
His reverie was interrupted by the entrance of Captain Torres into the Hydroponics Bay. Neelix was taken aback by the fierce look on the Captain's face as she strode into the bay.
"Captain Torres!" said the little Talaxian. "What can I do for you?"
Torres was looking intently around the bay until, not finding what she wanted, her piercing gaze settled upon him.
"Where are they?" she demanded.
"Captain?" asked Neelix, befuddled.
"You know what I mean," she accused him. "Those creatures! His menagerie! Where is it?"
"Oh, I see," he smiled. "Right over here, Captain." He turned and led the Captain to the small hatch in a bulkhead. "Here they are. I've been taking care of them for Comman--, er, Lieutenant Chakotay. They're really no problem. In fact, I've grown rather fond of them. . . ." He prattled on until tapering off into open-mouthed silence as Torres pushed past him and into the small enclosure.
"Can I help you with anything?" he asked uncertainly but was cut off from inquiring more when the hatch was closed rudely in his face. He stared at the hatch in confusion. Why would the Captain suddenly be expressing interest in Chakotay's collection of Terran barnyard fowl specimens? Chakotay had replicated a few several months ago as an experiment. When they'd not only survived but propagated, Chakotay had decided to raise them. They'd become pets of a sort, and he'd spent hours down here feeding them, building them cages covered in an odd sort of wire Neelix had never seen before, and simply talking to them. And their ova! The crew had been cheered immensely when he'd begun serving various dishes containing the yellow and white matter contained in the fascinating little shells produced by the females every day. Such a small thing, really, but Neelix couldn't begin to describe how pleased and satisfied he was to be able to bring them this pleasure.
He was jerked from his thoughts by a violent, disturbing cacophony of squawking, indeed, screeching by the Terran fowl. This went on for several unnerving seconds as Neelix alternated between standing on one foot and then the other, wanting to intervene yet uncertain of the reception his presence would be met with by their increasingly unstable Captain.
Finally, the horrible squawking stopped and a terrible silence descended. Then the hatch opened, admitting Torres and a swirl of feathers. Torres's face was smeared with blood, and blood spattered her uniform. White, red, and black fathers stuck to the blood in places, and if the truth of her actions were not so gruesome, the overall effect of the Captain's appearance might have been comical.
As she stepped through the hatch, she handed Neelix one of the dead fowl, its pitiful neck wrung. "Here," she said as she thrust the carcass at him. "We eat tonight!" she smiled in a feral way that made a chill run down the Talaxian's spine. Then she laughed and strode toward the turbolift, leaving Neelix in a wake of floating feathers, the only sound the drip, drip, dripping to the deck of blood from the plundered cages behind him.
Scene iiiMeanwhile, Down on the Planet
"Chakotay!" cried Ensign Harry Kim. "You're sure a sight for sore eyes!" He grabbed the big man and gave him an exuberant hug.
"Good to see you, too, Ensign," smiled Chakotay.
Kim, his face grown serious, looked up at him. "Shall we sit and tell sad tales of fallen Captains and absent friends?" he asked.
"I'm afraid our sorrows will have to wait, Harry. We have much to do if we're to wrest control of Voyager away from Torres and Seven. Now, tell me of this alliance you've made with the natives of Birnamwud."
The two men sat in the shade of a large deciduous tree upon a small hillock on the main continent of the planet Birnamwud so Harry could fill Chakotay in on what he'd been up to since his escape pod had landed here. Harry'd been busy. He'd explained the situation that had developed on Voyager to the representatives of the nation upon which he'd landed. The Birnamwudians, seeing a chance to interact with this strange species from another part of the universe, had agreed to come to the aid the affable human. Of course, the promise of shared technology made by Ensign Kim upon the successful mutiny against Captain Torres and her consort, ex-Borg Seven of Nine, had considerably sweetened the deal for the cagey Birnamwudians. Nothing that would violate the Prime Directive, of course. If the Borg-enhanced capabilities of the bio-neural circuitry of Voyager were a bit beyond the Birnamwudians' own development, well, perhaps this tiny infraction against the supreme rule could be ignored. Just this once. What was a little violation of a foundational principle of the United Federation of Planets, which it should be noted was 60,000 light years away, against the retaking of Voyager, their home for crying out loud, from a lust-crazed, power-mad half-Klingon seemingly intent on killing every one of them? They'd face the consequences, if there were any, later, once they had their ship back. Once they'd avenged the deaths of their Captain, helmsman, and other crewmen.
As they sat and talked, Chakotay's comm badge chirped to life.
"EMH to Lieutenant Chakotay."
"Go ahead, Doctor," replied Chakotay.
"Lieutenant, are you sitting down?" asked the Doctor, his voice full of concern.
At the disconcerting tone of the EMH's voice, Chakotay rose to his full height. "What is it, Doctor?" After what they'd all been through, it would take a tremendous blow, indeed, to cut the intrepid old warrior off at the knees.
"Chakotay," the Doctor began. "I'm afraid I have some bad news."
"I'd gathered that, Doctor," said Chakotay, beginning to lose patience. "Is it about the ship? Or is it personal?"
"I'm afraid it's personal," responded the EMH. "And I deplore that I should be the bearer of this new sorrow, Lieutenant."
"You can't mean"
"I do. Because she couldn't find you to kill you, she killedshe killed . . . ." The Doctor couldn't make himself deliver the horrible news.
"Gods in their heavens!" exclaimed Kim, grabbing the big man as he slumped to the ground. "Let it out, Chakotay. Let it out."
Chakotay covered his face with his hands. His shoulders shook.
"All my pretty ones? Did you say all?" He raised his tear-stained face to the sky. "What, all my pretty chickens and their dams at one fell swoop?"
"The roosters, too," said the Doctor.
"Take it like a man, Chakotay," advised Kim, his hand upon the stricken man's shoulder.
"You better believe it, Ensign," said Chakotay as he rose from the ground. "But I feel it as a man, as well. She goes too far! To kill a man's chickens! When I wasn't there to take her wrath myself!"
"That's it, Lieutenant," urged Kim. "Let this heinous act spur you to action! Let your grief burn your sorrow away to anger."
"Oh, I could play the Klingon with my wrath and boasting, but I'll let this do my bragging for me!" He pulled his phaser from his belt and looked at it with hard, cold eyes.
"Now you're talking, Chakotay," said Kim enthusiastically. "Come on! The Birnamwudians have a ship and men to help us. Torres has asked for this. Find what comfort you may. No cock will crow, nor chicken have her lay."
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